History 104, August 15, 2005:

Well, welcome back to Ohlone College or welcome to Ohlone College.  I'm glad your summers are over.  On August 15th summer is finished here.  There is some talk of, at least next year, pushing the summer a little longer.  That would be nice.  In any case, it's a nice dull dreary day outside.  It's a good day to start college rather than a nice sunny beach day.  Welcome up here, especially the new students.  You had a cool day to walk up the hill and get into shape.  And the old students may have noticed what I noticed and that's, they cut down a couple of the -- you knew exactly what I was going to say.  It was weird.

A            It looks empty now.

THE PROFESSOR:  Yeah.  For those of you who didn't notice anything, you need to take my poly sci class because we make you notice.  In this class you won't notice anything.  It's history, western civilization 104A in case I happen to be in the wrong class.

I don't know what's happened in the last two years, but the political science class, which is one of the courses you can take for the American institutions requirement, has emptied out.  I used to have 20-30 students waiting to get in.  And only one of the classes I'm teaching has only two students on the waiting list.  The western civilization class, which is not a course that fulfills the American's institutions requirement, which should be a no brainer since it's called western civ. but that's besides the point, is packed and has been for the last two years.  I'm happy.  I prefer, actually, candidly, in many ways, the western civilization.  It's always been a fun course for me.  In fact, when I first started teaching here, we actually had three of them in the classroom situation of each of the sections.  However, a number of years back the numbers dropped dramatically.  If the numbers keep increasing, it might be nice to add another section.  Part of the reason I added the self-paced courses was because we simply weren't getting enough courses for those who couldn't fit it in for those who needed the western civ. for institutions they were transferring to.  What that translates to is that there are a few schools in the country that require a western world civilization program rather than American studies for graduation.  Among those are the various religious schools.  Most of them will require a western or world civilization.  If you're transferring to one of the, I guess you call them religious institutions, then you will need to take western civ..  The university of Hawaii, which I'm sure most of you would like to transfer to -- well, maybe not.  I would.  Okay.  With that in mind, they require it.  And so does the university of Alaska.  I guess being the last two states to be admitted to the union, they have decided that they are not American history yet. 

The western civilization course is transferable to any institution just about in the United States.  I doubt there's any school, university, or college that doesn't offer it and allow it for transfer.  However, some schools are moving towards a world civilization course.  And as you may have noticed, I have added a world civilization component to the course and have a few years ago, about four now, decided to use a world civilization textbook basically to help those students who do want to transfer to a school that does require a world civilization program so that it's near -- your curriculum shows it, even though basically we really are western civilization.  If you need a letter from the professor with the curriculum to show it in your transfer, then I'd be happy to produce it.  I did have, a few years ago, a sort of funny situation, I guess, not as much as for the student and in some ways annoying.  I had a student take the western civ. during the summer.  He was a student who was attending Cornell University.  And when he tried to transfer the course back to Cornell, they wouldn't transfer it back until they saw my credentials, not just the course outline.  Well, yeah, okay, I have a PhD.  I've written, published, blah, blah, blah, but they have to see my credentials.  It annoyed me.  And I wrote back to them.  And I was from New York, if you haven't figured out the accent yet.  My brother went to Cornell, and if that wasn't good enough, the hell with them.  I was really a bit upset about it, but they did transfer it.  I've got the credentials to work for Cornell.  It should at least work for Chico.

Speaking about Chico, did you know that Ohlone College students transferring from Ohlone's grade point average remains almost identical at any school that they attend within about a tenth of a point, which makes us feel pretty good about a 2.5 if you transfer.  You'll get about a 2.6, 2.4, except to Chico.  At Chico, the grade point average drops dramatically, which tells you how much more difficult it must be from Stanford.  Anybody here attend Chico?  How many of you have attended a four-year university previously?  Only one.  How many of you intend to go to a four-year university?  Ohlone has one of the top -- I didn't hear what the number was this year, but last year it was fourth in the state transfer rate.  We have a fairy good reputation in that direction.  We do have a higher percentage.  The percentage is really pretty low all around the community college, which is interesting.  Many people intend to go on but don't or just finish AA programs.  Ohlone College transfer rate is 33-34 percent of all the students.  The standard community college transfer rate is 27 percent.  The average reading rate at the general community college is eighth grade.  The reading rate at Ohlone or reading grade level at Ohlone is ninth grade.  I want you to know that it's nice having a bunch of ninth graders in class, but please don't act like it.  That's all I request.

Are there any questions?  Let me go more general before handing out the material about the course generally.  The western civ. world civilization course begins with the beginning of the Earth, human kind I guess.  And you can take your choice as to when it began.  We'll talk about that either through intelligent design or through evolution, your choice.  However, whenever it began, we will bring this course up through the 16th century chronologically.  That's 1500s in case you still have trouble with centuries.  It is part and parcel of the year-long program.  However, most of you, in fact, almost all of you will only take the one-half, this half.  The reason being that you generally only need three units for your social science requirement or humanities, and this covers the social science and/or I should say the humanities requirement.  The second half of the course goes from about the 16th century to Captain Picard, at least the speculative look, shall we say, at the future.  I saw no reactions except for one person.  I guess Captain Picard is out of your memories.  How many of you know who I am talking about?  I fear so much. 

I think the thing that shook me up about 15 years ago was when John Denver died and I mentioned it in the class and none of the students had ever heard of him.  That was really a shocker.  It was like this gentlemen who worked for me in my chess program that I run at the elementary schools walked in.  He was subbing one day at the school I was teaching at, and he calls himself Captain Kirk and none of the students from kindergarten through sixth grade had any idea who Captain Kirk was.  How many have heard of Captain Kirk?  Okay. 

A            Price line.

THE PROFESSOR:  William Shatner.

Okay.  What I'd like to do then first is, I'm going to give out the material in a second, find out if there are any questions about just the general western civilization transferability or requirements.  I think I have enough packets.  My list showed 40.  I have no problem taking in a few extra students for a few reasons.  The Ohlone College dropout rate remains about the same, and that is 20 to 30 percent.  The western civ. remains at the college average.  So 20 to 30 percent of you will disappear during the semester.  I still have not figured out why.  If it were just my class, it would make some sense, but it seems to be traditional in the school.  I understand in part some of you change jobs.  You get a promotion.  You go from working at McDonald's to Burger King and therefore your hours change.  Some of you wind up getting pregnant and then married?  No.  That's the guys.  I'm not talking about the women here, guys.  And so you have to withdraw.  The strange thing is that it seems to be the A students and B students who drop out more than the F students.  Somehow the F students have this attitude that their coach or their guidance counselor told them if you give it the college try, you will succeed, so stay with it.  I hate to tell you how many students I get who get zeros on the exams, midterm, and say, I'm going to do better on the final, I know I can.  Do you ever average a zero in and see what happens to the grade?  And I can't convince them to go bye-bye.  I want the A students and the B students and the few C students to stay.  Those of you who have been told by your parents all along that you're losers and failures have probably convinced yourself you are and there's nothing I can do about it.  So if you're going to prove to your parents that you're a loser, then please drop.  I can tell you this.  There really is little reason for anybody to flunk this course.  I don't care what your capacity is as a student.  There are one or two people who really can't handle the college material, but that's not true of 99 percent of you.  All right.  My little sermon for today, I guess. 

By the way, retention is a big thing.  We lose money because our numbers dropped last year.  We have been asked to keep you people here the best we can until the first census so the state will give us money again.  And since the faculty salary is conditional to some extent upon the growth of students, if your professors have been acting nice to you this semester, at least for the next week or so, you'll know why.  It's their salary.  Mark my words and see what they're really like after two weeks.  Get a good picture of that.  We even had one counselor get his EDD a few years ago studying retention at Ohlone, how to keep you here, who's dropping out and how to keep you here.  EDD's are something we Ph.D.'s who are snooty frown upon, look down upon.  It's an educational doctorate to find out which -- he did a 30-page research paper quote/unquote instead of a 400-page dissertation.  And what gets us upset is, he gets the same salary at the end.  Snobbery then on Ohlone College's retention.  He found that the average dropout at Ohlone was a woman, female, between the ages of 19 and 38.  Notice the way he kept a narrow universe there.  And they were evening students.  He made certain suggestions to keep you here.  One was to learn your names the first day so you'd feel at home.  Forget it.  There's no way with my cluttered hard drive I'm going to attempt to learn your names, especially since, as I indicated, 30 percent of you will drop in about three weeks.  What's that done is, it's cluttered by hard drive.  If I learn your name, it will make me feel very unhappy and sad because then somebody dropped my class who I knew, sort of a personal feeling there.  If I don't learn your name for a couple of weeks and you drop, who gives a dam.  I will get to know many of your names at least for the semester.  I may forget them after this.  It's hard.

The other thing he suggested was putting the faculty member's photograph on the door of their office so students would feel a personal connection again and want to stay in the classes more often.  Well, I did try it.  In fact, I've kept the photos up there each semester to sort of make a personal connection.  But I honestly had to write back to him and say, you know John, there is a problem.  I have put my photograph up, but since put it up, the evening women from the ages of 19 to 38 have been dropping out at a greater rate.  It didn't work very well.

I'm just going to pass these back.  Grab one.  I hope I have enough.  How many people are on the waiting list.  You're all registered?  One.  I'm also going to pass around a card for a little extra information.  It's nice now that the school is listing your phone numbers and your e-mail addresses for -- you know, in case something should happen and you're not doing well and I can call your parents.  Everybody's got one.

Okay.  If you would fill out the card with that little extra info.  It is my intent, since they've been posting the e-mails, to let people know if I should be missing a class in advance and I know about it, if something should happen, I will send out an e-mail to you based upon the list I have.  Now, obviously sometimes the e-mails do change and you won't receive it, or some of you still have a tendency to only check your e-mails once a year, which probably is healthier than my approach.  I'm compulsive.  I probably shouldn't tell you this.  I have this tremendous drive to have to respond immediately.  Therefore, if you do write me an e-mail and I don't respond shortly, please write it again.  It might have gotten lost in cyberspace somewhere.  And the e-mail address and other information are in the booklet, but I will get any information I can, any changes that might be made to you. 

Let me go through -- well, let me take attendance first.  I guess you'd call it attendance if it's even a college called roll.  It sounds the same.  However, we are a two year institution.  We are a college.  And therefore, based on the courses I had, this may be the only time I call the attendance roll.  The reason in part is, it gives me an opportunity to drop the no shows.  It gives me a chance to at least correct any information on the roster.  Please note because of that, if for any reason you should drop the course but you do not notify records, because I'm not about to drop you unless you didn't show, then you will wind up with an F at the end of the semester and there's nothing I can do about it.  In fact, a good percent of the F's I give you see in my grades are people who for some reason have left and do not show and don't do it through the admissions and records.  In my western civ. class in this room a few years ago I had a married couple taking the course, which, to me, is somewhat insane, but their marriage seemed to last through most of the semester -- who decided during spring break to go to Hawaii.  They liked it so much they settled in Hawaii and never came back but they never dropped the course.  When they got an F on their transcript, they were incensed.  I felt no pity, sympathy.  They were in Hawaii.  I'm not about to change it.  Again, college students, your responsibility.  You can take care of it from there.

The other element I need to warn you is, I'm going to mess up a good number of your names.  It is not my intent to mispronounce names.  There are a couple of reasons for it.  I apologize ahead of time.  And I'll explain if reasons in a minute.  I realize your name is your identity.  It's your purpose for being.  It's your uniqueness.  It makes you feel like your own God.  And who am I to insult your God, so I apologize.  One, when I learned to read, education was going through one of it's typical innovation eras -- it goes through it every couple of years -- and they decided that they were not going to teach us phonetics.  They decided that the best way to learn to read was through memorization.  And so I have never learned how to sound out names.  I've never taken the phonics course.  I've never been hooked on phonics.  I've never played the phonics game.  There's also another reason that -- I guess I should add, so if I haven't seen your name over and over again, then probably the reason I mess it up -- there's another reason your names often get messed up by me, not intentionally.  And that's because Californian's have an accent.  They mispronounce certain words.  Of course Californians have this tremendous ego.  We are the best.  We are the perfect.  Everybody speaks wrong but Californians.  We don't have an accent.  The rest of the world has an accent.  Of course that means the United States; but since we tend to think of the world as the United States, then I guess the rest of the world has an accent.  Now I know you don't believe that still, so I'm going to prove it to you.  I have to prove these things.  I covered the board.

All of you who have been born and bred and raised in California, say that word please.

A            Mary.

THE PROFESSOR:  That word?

A            Marry.

THE PROFESSOR:  Even sounding it out slowly, you said it the same way.

A            Merry.

THE PROFESSOR:  Now, all I heard was marry, marry, marry.  Mary, marry, merry.

Q            Can you say it again?

THE PROFESSOR:  Mary, marry, merry.  Not marry, marry, marry.  I just wanted to make a point that when your name ends in an A, but the proper pronunciation from my part of the world it should have an R at the end of it.  If it's AW, it would be pronounced ORE, just to let you know.  We will try our best.

Let's take a look at the course requirements.  The first thing I want to know is that much of what you're getting not all of it is up on-line.  Of course more interesting perhaps is that there's some example exams on-line.  I do want to show you and it's there, how to get to the material for western civ.  You type in people after the Ohlone.  My name is Alan M. Kirshner.  That's my name, in case you were not sure.  If I messed up your name -- and we do understand revenge -- if I messed up your name, you have a perfect right to screw up my name.  You can call me Mr. Kirshner instead of calling me Dr. Kirshner.  You can call me Alan or hey teach.  I started teaching at 21 and 18-year-old students calling me -- yeah that's the real age you get out of college.  Never mind.

A            Oh my God, you are so brutally honest.  I'm just 20 right now and I'm just starting.  Ouch.

THE PROFESSOR:  So sad, but at least you only look 14.

A            That's even sadder.

A            I hear that all the time.

THE PROFESSOR:  I remember when I was in college we had a 28-year-old woman in the class and boy did we think she was ancient.  I hope we don't have any 28-year-olds.  You definitely made me lose may train of thought.  I started teaching at 21 -- that's okay -- with 18-year-olds calling you Mr. it was sort of a traumatic experience.  That's why I got my doctorate, so I wouldn't be called Mr. anymore.  Please remember I can accept the insult; but if you continue to insult me, please remember that I grade you.

All right.  We go here and hit enter and there I is (sic.) and then to my courses.  By the way, when you get to my course, you have a little time before the classes start and you have all the work in, there's some real interesting stuff here.  I think my favorite is, why is few students cannot answer my essay questions.  And there is an essay there written by a student who took political my science course and he came for the final exam.  He spent two and a half hours writing the essay explaining why he couldn't answer the question and apologized saying he didn't want to leave earlier because others would look at him strange, and he tied it all to rock in roll music.  He deserved an A for effort but he still flunked.  In any case, this is mostly political science.  The lectures here are posted from spring 1999 from most editions from fall 2000, and we've been edited in part to get rid of my bad jokes. 

We have a court reporter in class this semester which I have never had in western civ. before, but I have had in political science.  So I was able to put them up on-line.  At least universities quote/unquote -- for any of you who have gone, only one of you have gone -- you could go into the bookstore and buy professor's lectures.  It's a real interesting situation.  The bookstore makes money on us.  They send in a note taker every semester to take notes and students can therefore buy their lectures, which is fun.  I do it free.  Of course the professors don't get anything out of it there anyway.  And they're up and we're going to hopefully do that with western civ. because we had the general offer.  We'll take care of that as well. 

Click on the westernciv.104 and you will see -- this is supposed to be an active movie.  It was taken a few years ago.  You'll see the western civilization with a world perspective.  And here is directions for the completion of the work.  They are updated.  You will notice for some of you there are have there is a new textbook.  The Earth and it's peoples, a global history.  It is much more global.  I'm going to have to revamp some of the things I'm doing based on the textbook.  Clearly, I hope you understand the textbook is designed for your readers.  Lectures are designed for your listening.  It translates to, I assume that you can read and therefore it is not my role to go over with you what's in the textbook.  The textbooks supplements my lectures.  I supplement the textbook.  And that is -- so they will be different.  And the approach will be different.  I chose this book.  It's the first time almost since 1997 when I used the same textbook to a large extent because the textbook I used I really liked.  I thought I wanted to add a little more general connections between the parts of the world.  And I think this textbook does it well; however, I will look forward to some of you evaluations of it.  The other textbook, many students felt there was so much material.  In this one I'm not sure there is enough.  Let me know during the semester at the end how you're finding it and certainly if at least it keeps you wake for about 20 minutes.  If it puts you to sleep immediately, then let me know that too.  There are a lot of world civilization textbooks unless of course you have insomnia and you need something to put you to sleep. 

Usual attendance, taking notes on lectures with the instructor's hope that something is happening, exam, group meetings and class discussions.  We will talk about those as we read on.  Be careful to check your assignment sheets far in advance of each section, as textbook readings will vary each other.  Also note on the course assignment sheets will be the date of the group meetings and the questions you're expected prepare.  There will be 10 group meetings during the semester.  Students will interact with four or five other individuals to discuss the creative insights and personal hang-ups that's not required according to the questions for each chapter except for the first group meeting.  Each student is to come prepared to discuss the material in accordance with the questions in the chapter as specified in the assignment sheet.

All right.  Let me go down to the assignments rapidly.  The first reading assignments under be physical will be all the chapter in chapter one of the text.  The group meeting to be held on August 19th -- says discuss your impression of Velikovsky's theory.  Velikovsky's are not in this packet.  They're on reserve for the library.  For those of you who have a phobia about library's, you can obtain them from me as long as you return them.  I have about 30 of them in my office.  So all you need to do is come by my office and I will lend them to you.  My office is 8320. 

My office hours say between noon and 1:00 p.m. on -- I'm reading in page eight unless you didn't notice it, page eight where it says office hours near the bottom.  I have changed my Tuesday/Thursday which I intended to do because I cancelled out one of my political science classes on Tuesday/Thursday.  So the hours on Tuesday/Thursday, if you'll write it in are 12:20 to 1:20.  So Tuesday and Thursday between 12:20 and 1:20.  And it says if you cannot make it at these times, please speak to me and see if we can work out some mutual convenient time.  It also says that I am in my office at other times.  Even if I appear not to be there, come in and wait.  I've had only two things stolen from my office in the 35 years -- God -- I've been at Ohlone.  Yeah, I know, I've had your mother or father.  I'm waiting until I have your grandparents in class before I retire.

A            I think you have.

THE PROFESSOR:  One was the headset from the telephone.  Now, why anybody would just take the headset rather than the whole telephone, I'm not really sure.  That was the weird one.  The other one was back in the seventies, I had a picture of me with a closed fist in the air and a black arm brand protesting, and I think somebody wanted to use it to prove that I was part of the New York international communist faggot ginkgo Jewish conspiracy.

It does say on the sheet that I am asking you to bring with you a three by five card with notes on it that you want to talk on.  Now you can't get a lot of notes on a three by five and that's intentional.  I want a short outline basically.  I want you not to read your discussion material.  I want you to directly participate.  The group meetings will be one-fourth of your grade.  There is no reason students shouldn't be doing them because I give you the option.  If you don't like group meetings or you don't like other people or you're sick or you're absent, you can write them up.  I give you two to three weeks to finish them after you get back to school or after the group meetings are over.  You're to write a two-page typewritten, three-page handwritten source two weeks after you return answering the question, answers to the questions due for that group meeting.  So if you really find the group not productive and sometimes they're not.  Sometimes the groups are a great learning experiences.  We will be doing it during the time of class, in case that's a question.  And since obviously it's a large class and space may prohibit some interaction, I allow the students, in fact I prefer knowledge of the groups.  Go outside, hallway, out on the stairs.  I don't mean home at that point.  I mean doing the group meeting.  You have the option at least to go outside the room.  California weather is obviously nice enough to allow it, except the rainy reason sometime in late October or early November, we might run into some problems.  Generally it works pretty well and it gives an opportunity that is not always there at the community college, a chance to meet other people candidly.  At most sleep-in universities or colleges that have dorms or people live on campus or near campus, there's interaction that takes place in the dorms or in the gathering places and the coffee shops and the pizza places.  And if they serve 32 beer, which you can serve under 21 in the bars, people can discuss those things that may be interesting to them academically.  Candidly, not all things that are discussed are academic.  One of things that you really do enjoy doing at a four-year school is sometimes discussing what's going on in class and of course the professors.  With that in mind, this gives you an opportunity to do some of that in the classroom. 

I will be passing out a sheet that will cover the grade.  You'll get a chance to grade yourself and you'll have a chairman or chairperson that will change from week to week.  Everybody in the group will get a chance to get even with the other members.  And that grade will be placed in my grade book to count one-fourth of the grade.  Again, when you've got 100 points pretty free, that's got to help your grade generally.

Okay.  It looks like I'm going to have to continue with this on Wednesday, and we'll see most of you on Wednesday.  Please leave the card on the table on the way out.